Few artists on Chicago’s scene bring as much heat as DeadstockV1 does. His brand new single GEEK is just another example of that. The instrumental on this joint consists of a pleasant mix of jazz and trap elements. The synth chords sound as if they are breathing and the jazzy piano chords stick out beautifully in more subtle moments. Despite its lo-fi elements the bass and trap percussion hit hard, making this track an absolute banger.
This goes without saying but DeadstockV1 rips this track to pieces. His lines are clever, sarcastic and funny as hell. His cadence is lively and full of spirit, his voice absolutely oozing with confidence. How comfortable he sounds tearing a beat to shreds vouches more for his art than any fan or blogger ever could.
If there is one word that sums up DeadstockV1’s performance on this new track, it would be charismatic. You know he is going to bring the lyrical heat every time he steps to the mic, but it is amazing how much his confidence and personality grow with each new release. He mentioned on his Instagram that this song is the “second step in a much bigger picture,” so this dude is definitely someone you are going to want to keep on your radar.
J-Bose is one talented individual. He raps something like a Busta Rhymes or Busdriver and sings with a unique timber unheard of before. He crafts lyrical messages using technical styles of hip hop, fusing that with pop songwriting methodologies. The overall socio-economic political message of J-Bose’s debut album stood out in particular.
He seems to be able to create this realistic hero complex of himself. Utilizing the honesty of his own experiences and coupling that with a filter of his interpretations of the outside world. The majority of these being quite socially progressive in nature. J-Bose’s mature reflections of these stereotypical occurrences might come off to some as, you guessed it, a SNOWFLAKE.
What is a Snowflake? One of the most beautiful and temporary examples of sacred geometry that comes with the absence of heat, or cold. Thinking about that makes you delve deeper into the term we use to coin so many moderate liberal millennials as Snowflakes. Are we really so sensitive that all logical debate has now been eroded? Or is it perhaps we are fed up with the supposed universal rules of society we find ourselves with. Just maybe this generation is going to completely alter the path of history? After listening to Snowflake, the latter of those ideas seem possible.
The first track to delve into is Feel Me featuring Kara Dawn. J-Bose layers much meaning, feeling and questions of morality in his writing. He begins with, “I done seen a lotta people with the biggest egos and the smallest bank accounts. Walkin’ round like they a giant, thinkin’ they Goliath, everyone else David now!”. The idea that there is a lot of fakes with inflated personalities but very little to offer, would seemingly be the person opposite of a snowflake. J-Bose continues with, “Could be inside that they’re hurting, thinkin’ this’ll be the safer route“. It could be these same fakes are actually just lost inside and the best defense mechanism is an outwardly egotistical aggression.
To be a snowflake in our current culture’s context is to admit to feelings you have towards things within society that upset you, not to be emotionless brash. In his second verse he makes this point, “See, we gotta learn how to empathize, we don’t know everyone’s situation. Take the judgement, the bigotry and the lies and remove it all from the equation. And treat everyone as an equal, all the time, not just in some occasions. Cuz we are an imperfect people and it’s time we built perfect relations“. These types of inherently idealistic yet purely loving concepts are unfortunately labeled as snowflake behavior, providing others an excuse to not mentally confront the issues at hand.
J-Bose does not tear down those bigoted, fearful, close minded people whom ignorantly project their baseless vitriol. He sees himself in them, sees their humanity and because of that can only judge so harshly. FEEL ME is a melancholic song that forces a listener to wrestle with their personal morality and sense of empathy. It will have you questioning why you judge and think in the manner that you do.
ONE CHANCE is another appealing tune because the hook is uptempo with a catchy uplifting melody! The song has to do with personal growth and change. These two things are definitely part of the mythos or ethos of what makes a snowflake. “Whether you’re fat, annoying or boring or selfish or lazy, you can identify and make a change and start anew and you can see yourself the way that I see you“. Its the idea of being able to see the light in everyone regardless of the veneer. “But stay humble and if you’re wrong sometimes, and when you are then that’s ok change your state of mind, be honest with your problems and we’ll get along fine, and rejoice we get to share this world and make it cloud 9.“
Some people simply can’t hear out a victim’s or an oppressed group’s opinion because they deem it offensive to themselves personally. Today someone could express their feelings of oppression and have those concepts fall on deaf ears because the receiver thinks they are being personally attacked or torn down. Happen all the time on social media! Some people just cannot separate themselves from the demographic they are apart of. But to be honest, you cannot expect too much out of ignorant people or those unwilling to empathize.
Snowflake by J-Bose gets your gears whizzing. There are many questions to ponder and things to think about when going through this record. Off two songs alone you can extrapolate an insane amount of ideas being conveyed. J-Bose really created an inwardly personal yet outwardly political record with extreme relevance to our current American socio-economic political climate. Questions of sexuality, anxiety, societal ills, oppression, self doubt, crippling fear — its all there.
J-Bose then takes all that and is still able to portray a silver lining. He does so exceedingly well in songs like ONCE CHANCE, ROY DEE THE GIFT, and DOUBLE LOVE. The record is emotional, visceral, piercing, honest, brutal, and eye opening. Snowflake by J-Bose is as pretty as it is structurally sound, but unlike a snowflake, this record isn’t temporary, its here to stay.
Comin’ from the city where they yell Bear Down, CMONEYWAVE has been killing the sound. Poppin’ into the Chicago music scene a few years ago with his MONEY WAVE LP, a legend was born! Lyrically authentic, CMONEY keeps everything on the surface, transparent, as he spits poetry about life and growth. Unafraid to walk down the dark corners of the mind he brings you hip hop that is true to self. Emanating confidence and wisdom, in his latest release SURF OR DROWN, you will be too by the end of the album
Looking at the name, SURF OR DROWN seems to be a metaphor for success; you either rise to the top or you sink to the bottom. Listening to the lyrics you will find he means it both physically and mentally. In the opening title track CMONEY goes through thoughts of jealousy of his partners and being unmotivated with his music, but realizing “thats the devil at work and he was tryin to employ me, if I let him he’d have no problem to destroy me“. It is another level of confidence and awareness to catch yourself slippin’ like that, because you know you are better.
The next tracks you see him back on his right path in his right mind with his people on his side, which includes Tone Jonez, Apache Gross, Nu Jack, Mama Wave and Ka’ron Burgandy. Reflecting and ready to move in READY OR NOT with Joselyn Marie, the 2nd track gets you prepared for the wave. CMONEY really gets into his zone in the body of the LP, where you can really hear the rawness of his perspectives, from the ambitious to the sensual. “You still lackin ambition, how you plan to succeed, if you can’t pass the emissons, how you plan to compete.” In fact from start to finish, his lyrical ability is effortlessly bona fide, with no mercy he really shows what hip hop is about.
The LP is full of lines to keep your head on straight and sober you up. Artists like CMONEY understand the importance of the different aspects of life and the trials we go through. In tracks like AUTUMN you can see where he places his values and DROWNING you come to realize even the the strongest minds go through strong doubts on the road to success. SURF OR DROWN is a real true to self conceptual project with an authentic human touch. You can either turn up to this or reflect with it, but there is a song in here for everyone.
“The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.”
According to dragonfly-site.com, the Dragonfly serves as a metaphor for change and self-realization.
Bring in south-side MC Ajani Jones, whose debut album of the same name embodies these sentiments to a T. Released on July 16, DRAGONFLY is a 13-track, 47-minute essay on growth, adaptation and personal evolution. The final product is the journey that encompasses those three aforementioned, which result in Jones coming to a full actualization of who he is as an artist and human.
The opening track, JANI’S INTRO, kicks off with Ajani Jones conversing with his 11-year-old self, asking what this younger version of himself likes to do for fun. Jones looks back on a delicate time in his life which consisted of playing with roadblocks and hanging out with his cousins. There is a sense of innocence that little Ajani brings in this skit — a sense of purity that is yet to be tainted by the harsh realities of the outside world. As the conceptual arc of Dragonfly develops further, the innocence portrayed in the opening skit is threatened more and more.
Where Ajani Jones shines most on this album is how he grows from the obstacles that stand in his way. On DRAGONS he confronts the terrifying notion of his cousin being recruited by a gang. His flow and delivery hold the sense of urgency that comes with someone being under siege for the first time, often not knowing how to react. However Jones does not fold here; he fends off the temptation associated with his surroundings, keeping his head afloat and his feet planted firmly on the right path.
On LUCID, which pops up in the middle of the track list, Jones goes into detail about a call he received from his mother late one night while he was at the studio. After checking his bank account she was left wondering how Jones would pull through while lacking funds. Jones however appears calm and collected despite the dire circumstances, confident he will pull through once again. As the second leg of the album progresses, the obstacles only continue to pile up.
PLUTO sees Jones and his mother dealing with their house being foreclosed on, as well as loved ones he has lost due to Chicago’s gun violence. On the closing track TIME FLIES, Jones confronts how lost he felt as a kid searching for a god to believe. He also touches on the fractured relationship between the police and the black community. Despite closing out on a somewhat somber note, the underlying notion that Jones has made becomes abundantly clear. He has refused to succumb to all of the obstacles that have stood before him, instead using them as periods of intense personal growth.
Aside from the well fleshed-out, conceptual arc of the album, the beats and lyrics are noteworthy by themselves. Lyrically Jones displays loads of technical skill on every song here. His wordplay is sharp and the pictures he paints holds a quality of vividness that so few MC’s have. His flow and delivery are equally as gripping as he delivers his verses with a robust sense of urgency. The instrumentals shine as well, ranging from bleak and dreary sounding to jazzy and laid-back. Jones did a great job of picking beats that fit the mood he was in on a given track.
On the beginning of DRAGONFLY, Ajani Jones is an 11-year-old kid unaware of the cold, harsh truths that have yet to invite themselves into his life. What comes after is the battle to either grow within himself, or fall victim to the obstacles that are constantly standing in his way. Jones not only chose to grow, he chose to grow triumphantly. How he conceptually realizes that over the course of an album is a true testament to that. That sentiment in combination with the moody production and lyrical dexterity from Jones himself makes for a great album. That is why Ajani Jones is this week’s Artist Of The Week.
One of the things I love most about Ever Evolved is the diversity between all of the artists in the collective. This week’s Artist Of The Week goes to a musician who brings a whole new element to the collective and that would be rapper Wilhelm Duke. A wordsmith with loads of technical skill, Duke peppers his verses with all types of different flow patterns and unique deliveries. He is an artist who brings something new to every track he lands on, always keeping the listener on their toes. He exudes a sly sense of confidence in his voice as he demonstrates a high level of command on the microphone.
All of these strengths come through on his new single WANT SMOKE. Produced by Joey Bandino, the instrumental is bleak and menacing. The bass here is grumbling and authoritative while the percussion is offbeat and hard-hitting. Though minimalistic in scope, Bandino does a wonderful job of creating a dark atmosphere. Duke’s lyricism fits the mood of the instrumental to a T. He explores themes of depression and loss of hope. He also shows a rich sense of variety in his wordplay as his lines range from being animated and funny to witty and braggadocios.
His vocal performance also stands out. Though just 26, Duke has the confidence of a seasoned veteran as he sounds like someone 15 years his senior. His delivery is weighty yet easy-going as he weaves together a myriad of flows and lyrical concepts throughout the track’s duration. There is a lot going on here but Duke makes it look effortless.
At just 1:50 in length, WANT SMOKE is a grimy, lyrical trap banger. This track would work really well either as a stand alone single or as part of a project. To me this track captures the essence of who Wilhelm Duke is as an artist and MC, as he shows a great deal of technical skill, easygoing charisma and rich imagery on this track.
Who has been putting in the work other than Emily Ramirez aka BeatrixKiddo, the fierce hard spitting fatale with a style reminiscent of early Eminem or Da Brat! She has dropped three visuals this year already, two of her own records, shot by CVO Films. She dropped STOGIE in mid January and she released BITCHES BE MAD in May. STOGIE is a well paced lyrical turn up track about how she gets down with the cannabis culture, while BITCHES BE MAD is about well, certain people being quite mad.
Both of these projects are a great display of her vocal prowess and edge she has over an instrumental. She is completely unique while leaving the listener in a position to desire more; her music, sound and style demands an increase in content. She also was featured on the Bombay Boyz record AFTER YOU, produced by Rhymster and Frekwenzy, which dropped in the middle of March. Her verse on that record hits hard but was still delivered with a smooth tone giving the track’s mix a lush blend. Its refreshing and inspiring to see more and more women being consistent in the Chicago scene with producing music.
Most recently BeatrixKiddo dropped her single Titled BACK AT IT. She goes bar for bar letting you know what she is capable of while detailing some of the admirable attributes of the Ever Evolved cohorts and affiliates. You can find this new single of hers on Spotify and Apple Music. As we continue to highlight and shine attention upon women in the scene that are simply put, killing it let us remember emcees like BeatrixKiddo. Emcees that are unafraid to portray a sort of feminine heroism that the hip hop industry largely ignores.
Consisting of T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah Knox, this duo rising out of Chicago are a force on a mission. Mother Nature aims to inspire fearlessness through peace and love and help raise the frequencies of our collective conscious through thought provoking Hip Hop lyricism. Lending a powerful voice for Black Women, not only in music but politically as they raise awareness on social issues. With their attitude and style they got just enough flare to direct their message effectively.
The two pop into Chicago a few years back with their self titled debut album around 2015. Tracks like SAY HER NAME from that album screams out the oppressive nature toward women of color. Even tracks like MOTHER NATURE and TAKE IT FURTHER note the urgency to help society and earth itself from destruction. T.R.U.T.H. and Klavah Knox somehow place these ideas into party anthems, attractively disguising activism.
Fresh off a more recent release, Mother Nature is riding off the energy from their PRESSURE EP. Promoting the project strong pre release with a music video for SIMPLE, they are back again with more visuals. For the cover title track PRESSURE, they personify the weight of everyday hardships in life and how they push right back in their latest music video. Placing awareness onto law of attraction, relativity, cause and effect, ego, energy and more ideas, Mother Nature continues with their revolutionary ideas and lyricism over raw beats with this project. Follow these minds and be inspired!
It is an artists duty to tests peoples perspectives, making people react negatively or positively. To either arouse, ponder or offend! In this case the Chicago duo Taking Hits Constantly hopes for the latter. Popping back in with the twelve piece album, HOPE UR OFFENDED, as if they never left but their growth is apparent. Passa Spliff and Liquid G may take their time with their craft but when they do things they do it big! Coming off of a collaboration with Probcause, JR James and a music video following their previous LP MHX, their playlist is flawless.
Every song is produced and written by THC, they keep the foundation of the LP pure bred, inviting a few features cause they do it big; like we said. Starting the album out with a party co hosted by Jaxx Stone on DO WHAT WE DO, giving an idea of the direction this LP is goin. The two experimenting with other genres but sticking to their Hip Hop roots. The funk and soul vibe continues with ROBOTS featuring Nick Ledesma, already trying to push your buttons lyrically. “When I’m on the mic zip it, you know what I like? Different. All these rappers the same. Hip Hop back from the gave? Now wouldn’t that be the day“.
Lyrics preparing you for what Spliff & G got for you with J.R. James who features on 5 tracks in this LP. Getting wild on YOU DON’T WANNA and EVERYTHING, each got the energy to get you hype before cooling down with some R&B flow on LET GO. Continuing onto KEIF BUTTER EVERGLADES, a beat that straight up bumps as the two spit raw verses, they continue the underground Hip Hop energy for remainder of the LP before they cap it off with Vasily on MEMO TO THE YOUNGER ME.
Included in HOPE UR OFFENDED are their previously released tracks THIS IS FOR ME, for which they made a Music Video for, and their release with Probcause and J.R. James CARPET RIDE. Again noting how they take their time with their work. You can hear in their lyrics their wisdom, composure and adaptability to different genres how they have evolved from MHX and their previous work. Style and determination as such keeps them going, offering them opportunities like opening up for Method Man and Redman in August at Joes in Rosemont, Chicago. If you know what is good for you, grab some Taking Hits Constantly for your playlist on Apple Music or their links below.
Digging deeper into the diversity of Chicago artists we find people from different genres, mediums, ethnicity’s and more. This week we highlight Pauna for Women Crush Wednesday following a music video release. Introduced to Pauna at an Ever Evolved Midnight Marauders Open Mic event, she signed up to present her music among other artists. With a very calm demeanor she steps onto the stage and explodes into hip hop verses, impressing the crowd with her speed and word choice.
Residing in Chicago Pauna frequents local shows to support her fellow music artists in her circle of creatives. Getting the chance to perform here and there she recently had events at Ate Music House and HVAC Pub, giving audiences a taste of her unique hip hop style. Every artist personalizes their music to be representation of themselves, differentiating from others. Pauna blends her hip hop with wordplay through languages.
Being from a Serbian background you can hear her mixing English with some Serbian dialect. Most notably in her music video for her single IDIOTI, her native language plays a big role in the track. In the music video you can see how she places her hip hop lyricism and production in a more gothic setting and fashion more attributed to European culture than hip hop. Her most recent music video release for THE WAY YOU TREATED ME AWOKE ME takes on a more natural setting as the beat is more slowed down. Taking on a more soulful R&B vibe, you can see how she can carry into different styles with ease adding to her potential to experiment with different sounds. Keep extra eyes and ears out for Pauna she just might surprise you!
As a part of a recent revamp here on the Ever Evolved, we will be doing an Artist Of The Week segment every Friday, shedding light on a Chicago artist doing big things on the local scene. Surely enough, being tasked with writing the first installment of this segment, the second this occurred a certain artist immediately popped into mind: Musa Reems.
A native of the Austin Neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side, Reems comes from humble beginnings. He began rapping at the ripe age of 15 as a part of the Children of I.L.L.I.O.S. artists collective. Reems is also a fan of underground and conscious hip-hop from an early age. He cites spitters such as Black Thought and MF Doom as being among his biggest influences.
Over these last few years, Musa Reems has blossomed into one of the crown jewels of Chicago’s underground hip-hop scene. With his music being featured on numerous blogs, most notably Fake Shore Drive, Lyrical Lemonade and ELEVATOR Magazine among many others. Reems has been steadily building a buzz for himself that extends well beyond the city of Chicago.
Taking directly from his influences, Reems packs his verses with razor-sharp wordplay, colorful personality and vivid imagery covering the harsh realities of Chicago’s inner city. Reems also has a wide array of flows at his disposal and frequently delivers his verses with a poignant sense of passion that makes you believe every word he is saying. Especially lately, all of the technical skill that he possesses has really started to pay off.
During the month of May Musa Reems gifted his fans with his Musa Mondays series, where he dropped a new single every Monday for the entire month. These five cuts showed a staggering amount of diversity when it came to sounds, lyricism and flows. Reems capped off the series by dropping a compilation EP, entitled Musa Mondays, which included the original five cuts plus an additional bonus track for listening pleasure. This 6-song, 14-minute offering just might be Musa Reems’ best release yet as there are some serious highlights on here.
There are some gritty street rap cuts on tracks such as Quarter Juice where Musa does nothing but drop straight bars. The way Reems portrays the bleakness of street life is second to none and he exudes a sense of easy-going confidence on the mic that is contagious. In contrast, there are more stripped back tracks on here such as Not Know, which are far more somber and self-reflective in tone. Lyrically Musa Reems shows an incredible amount of honesty and introspection showing the complexity of being human.
Having recently been published in publications such as 4th Shore Hip Hop, Insomniac Magazine and even the Chicago Reader, it is clear that the world is starting to take notice of this talented Chicago wordsmith. If he keeps grinding the sae way he has been, it should only be a matter of time before he blows up beyond measure.